I mentioned in my blog post I’m finally having some proper physio that I was due to have a needling session to try and ease my neck pain. Well, this week I had it. And my god it was the most painful thing. Not only did I nearly pass out, I cried. Twice.
I can’t remember if I’ve had needling before or if it was acupuncture, but I kinda knew what to expect. I thought I did anyway. I knew it involved tiny needles being inserted in to specific trigger points on my body and some gentle twisting of the needle to stimulate the muscles. I recall it caused a little bit of pain, but nothing I couldn’t cope with considering how used to pain I am these days.
How wrong I was
The needles went in to my neck one at a time. I think there was 6 altogether but to be honest I lost count. It was painful but bearable. The twisting started and blinking ‘eck; it hurt so much. I made a few noises and my whole body seemed to tense up. I was sat forward on a chair so couldn’t really move and defend myself. Each twist of the needle was more and more painful.
When I thought it wouldn’t get any worse, the physio decided to tackle some of the muscles in the top of my back and shoulders; he said they were extremely tight. The needles went in and I’m not kidding, it was like being stabbed with a knife and someone twisting it. The pain resonated up and down my upper back. I nearly cried. I thought I was going to pass out with the pain, but somehow I stayed conscious. I must have been muttering some nosies and signalling that I was in distress and suffering, because they guy said “you can swear you know”. So I did. I was due to have two other treatments of this and I was thinking I’m never going back again if this is what it’s like.
I couldn’t hold it together
I got up after he had finally finished and my whole body seemed to go all sweaty and weak. He said this was a normal reaction. He also said I had the tightest neck muscles he’d come across, except for a Russian boxer, who passed out whilst in the chair having the needling. I felt quite proud of myself for a brief moment.
The physio told me to lie down and started moving my neck in weird ways and the dizziness started. He told me I needed to calm my breathing down and get my heart rate lower and then the tears flooded; I couldn’t control it. I just weeped and felt so stupid.
I eventually got a grip and he tried to do some other treatment. It was all a bit of a blur but I remember him asking me if I was comfier sitting up or lying down. Normally I’d immediately say lying down because of my lower back pain, but by this point, even lying down was hurting. And then I blubbered again. I just moaned “I don’t know” in answer to his question. I think by this point he was starting to be a little concerned.
Time for a glass of sugary water and some ice
I was holding my neck and complained that the pain was there every time I moved. I couldn’t even move my arms without the pain kicking in. How the hell was I going to drive home? I started to panic some more and the physio told me to take deep breaths and rest against a mountain of pillows behind me.
He went to get me a glass of water and came back with a mix of water, juice and some sugar to help do something. I wasn’t quite sure what, but I think it was to help me calm down and get my blood pressure up. He also lifted my legs in the air and wiggled them around. Again, I think this was to increase my blood pressure to try and get rid of the fainting feeling.
My treatment time was up so he had to go and see to another patient. He got me some ice for my neck because the muscles had gone in to spasm which is why it was so painful, and told me to relax and he’ll pop back in 5 to 10 minutes to make sure I was ok.
Was I ok?
I was finally starting to calm down but I was so embarrassed. I just wanted to cry and run out the door, but a) there was probably the risk that I’d still faint, and b) I still had to pay before I left.
To be fair to the physio , he was really good. He popped back a couple of times and when it was time to get up and go (finally!) I apologised profusely. He said this is all normal after the needling, so I didn’t need to worry. Well, that was easier said than done. Thankfully before I ran out the treatment room door he told me that next time they’ll do some hand treatment and not the needling. I may just go back now knowing this.
Have you had needling before? How did you find it? Was it painful? And did it help your pain? Feel free to get in touch or comment below.
Read my follow up blog post Why it’s important to trust your physiotherapist
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